By Fai Cassian Ndi
Tongues are still waging in Ako Council in Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region over the surprising incident that took place on May 28, 2014 when councilors of that municipality met to deliberate and adopt the 2013 administrative, management and stores accounts. Councilors who had prepared to raise hell on some figures presented in the accounts were hooked when Municipal treasurer could not show up. It should be noted that the 2013 administrative and management accounts of the Ako council took place under the watchful eyes of the Senior Division Officer for Donga Mantung Division, Ngone Ndodemesape Bernard. The administrative and management accounts of FCFA 702,708,335 in income and expenditure were presented to the incoming councilors but absence of the municipal treasurer, Stella Maih to give a convincing explanation on some budget heads became a bone of contention in the hall. However, as gathered, the municipal treasurer had received an impromptu audit team from Bamenda and she could not be allowed to attend the session. Whether it was a cooked-up audit for salvage or a spur-of-the-moment visit to uncover the fact that it happened on a very important day left many an observer bamboozling. A school of thought holds that the presence of the municipal treasurer would have clarified many burning issue given that she is hardly available. The Secretary General, Mbengia Wilfred Ngum who was the lone council technician had no other option than to ramble over figures as presented on papers. Yet as noticed, his curiosity was ostensibly at the council chamber where the audit team was surfing over documents. However, the councilors after examining the accounts, stomached their worries in anger as could be observed on their faces even the issue on readjusting the 2014 budget was hereto buried. It is aired that the budget head for mayor’s fuel dropped from FCFA 18 million to FCFA 6 million. Those who thought the accounts would be rejected were taken aback when they adopted depending justifiable explanation in a-would-be extraordinary session. At the end of the session, matters became worst when councilors were only received their sitting allowances. One councilor even threatened to resign if they are not treated fairly. “We have been told to return after a week for transport allowances”, one of them told this reporter angrily. Some councilors threatened to stage a sit-down strike but were later convinced by Akio Augustine, the Mayor of Ako. One councilor wondered loudly whether it was fair that for the treasury to spend FCFA 8 million as operating expenses as compared to FCFA 3.750.000 paid to the 25 councilors in 2013 as sitting allowances. To them, the amount consumed by the treasury department was much even when compared to FCFA 17.810.964 million was spent as allowances for wages to staff of the council. “We are being owed 7 months”, a staff of the council hinted this reporter. It is even alleged that the mayor could not receive his sitting allowance for the session on grounds that the municipal treasurer on leaving the municipal had not instructed the cashier to do so. Those who have had the opportunity to pass through CEFAM before being appointed as technicians in any municipality would agree here that it is the mayor who is the boss and not vice-versa remains another puzzle. However, a classified source at CONAC hinted this reporter that tons of petitions are on their table for a suspected organized banditry. “We will have time to determine whether the information is faulty or not” he reiterated.
The question as to who rules the Ako council abound high. The staff and the population have been wondering whether it is the mayor Akio Augustine, the Secretary General Mbengia Wilfred or the municipal treasurer Stella Maih. Seemingly, the technicians of the council have been playing the game of the mastiff in a punch to downplay on the chief executive of the council who is the overall boss. It is alleged that the municipal treasurer visits her office once in a blue-moon given that she doesn’t even reside in the municipality. Christopher Chobuke Manda, ( personal representative of the municipal treasurer) a graduate in accounting from the Pan African Institute for Development has been seen as the only rescuer in the treasury department without which the Ako Council would have been wallowing in the gutter. The story goes ever since the SDF took over the council; there have been a lot of conflicts of interest. Allegedly, it started with the internal political wrangling whereby some few political kingpins wanted to impose selves over the mayor and when order was inserted SDF hierachy, the deputy mayors also surfaced with their own dictates. The issue as we gathered was recently laid to rest by the SDO for Donga Mantung Division, Ngone Ndodemesape Bernard who told them that Ako council has only one mayor, and it is no other person but Akio Augustine. However, public opinion in Ako holds that the technicians are outwardly the thorn in the flesh of Akio Augustine. It is even alleged that during the last session, a sum of FCFA 500.000 was disbursed for food and entertainment yet the quality and quantity that was served raised a lot of doubts. The transfer of workers and recruitment of temporary workers purportedly met stiff resistance from both technicians. Instead of the mayor giving instructions, the reverse has been noticed, a staff who was busy compiling documents to deposit after being recruited as a temporary worker hinted this reporter. He said that they are afraid that if the mayor doesn’t hit the table to instill order, development is likely to suffer. Talking to this reporter at the end of the session, Mayor Akio Augustine said that the 2013 administrative and management accounts of the Ako council had a lot of loopholes but lamented that the former mayor, Emimi Emmanuel who would have perhaps given them ample information on some disturbing figures is of late. Notwithstanding, he said he would stop at nothing to make sure that he leaves a mark as development champion. He also announced that the keys of the newly constructed Ako Border Market were handed to the council and it is pending an official inauguration by the Senior Divisional Officer. He also revealed that the council is leaving no stone unturned in it’s strive to promote agricultural activities. According to Akio Augustine, the Ako intends to establish a palm tree nursery in order to modernize the palm oil sector which is considered as “black gold” in the municipality. He added that even though he inherited debts estimated at above FCFA 55 million, prospects are high that little by little, the bills would be paid.
When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)